Shaqquan Aaron walked out of the arena with a large welt on his forearm and a sore neck, but with a smile after USC improved to 2-0.
Aaron led the Trojans with 16 points, but it was two points that eluded him that left him bruised and battered after the game. With just over 90 seconds remaining in the first half, De'Anthony Melton stole a pass and moved it forward for Aaron. He went up on the fast break for an easy bucket, but Omaha forward Mitch Hahn came across hitting Aaron’s legs with his body. The body blow sent the spindly Aaron spinning like a top falling over. He landed awkwardly, hitting his head and neck.
“It scared me. I hit my head, so I was kind of screaming. But I got up,” Aaron said. “I didn't want to have to sit out a game or go through something like concussion protocol, so I tried to get up real quick. I happened to get pulled out.
“It was pretty scary. They didn't even call a flagrant. The dude kind of ran under me, but sometimes it happens.”
Aaron was removed and Omaha chose Charles Buggs to shoot the free throw attempts. Buggs made one of two putting USC ahead for the first time since its opening possession of the game. Omaha ended up taking a three-point lead into halftime. The Trojans and Mavericks battled back and forth for the first 10 minutes of the second half before a 7-0 run helped USC take the lead for good and a 9-0 run let them pull away.
The Trojans were more aggressive in the second half after getting a stern speech from head coach Andy Enfield at halftime.
“Coach said we were going to the hole — when we were driving — we were going soft,” Aaron said. “’Stop driving so soft and stop second guessing as shooters.' That's why we were missing. Actually a lot of open shots for all of us weren't falling. It was one of those tough games where you're just missing easy shots, but it comes. Sometimes we have these games like this, but next game we'll hit them.”
USC will need to take advantage of any open looks on Friday when the Trojans take on the Texas A&M Aggies at Reed Arena where they lost just once last season. Aaron said he’s expecting a rowdy crowd and has been preparing some of the team’s younger players for their first big-game environment.
“I try to tell them to be ready. Texas A&M, they're a great team and their guys are going to come out ready to play,” Aaron said. “I try to tell them to be ready for the atmosphere. It's not going to be like our games where there's barely any people. There's going to be a lot of people, so don't buy into that. Focus on the game and just tell them to be ready.”
As for himself?
“Oh I'm looking forward to it. Those are big games. I love big games, so can't wait.”
Watch Shaqquan Aaron, above, talk about his first game action at USC, including sluggish starts for the team in the first two games and the nasty spill he took on a fast break against Omaha.
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